Newborns Are Beautiful And Terrible

I’m sitting in a cafe, just weeks before giving birth to my second child, and I’m terrified!

My first baby has not been a baby for a very long time. He is approaching middle school age and has a high level of independence. Of course I’m still bound by his schedule, especially as a single mom, but outside of his home time I’m essentially free. He has sleepovers at his dads’ place once in a while or with my parents. An occasional babysitter (or kidsitter as he prefers) is an option when I want to be social or have another commitment. It’s not always easy but it is so much more than when he was 2 and we were first alone.

A newborn is a whole other adventure. I remember the exhaustion, the 3 am tears (mine) and the loneliness. During that time I had a live-in partner and it was spring time in Nova Scotia. It was easy to go out for daily walks. We had breaks from the indoor monotony. I had another adult to share the chores. As any single parent knows this is an absence you never quite stop mourning.

This time will be different. November here means rain, cold, wind, upcoming winter, dreary skys and knowing snowbound days are on the way. I’m also going to be alone with two children now. (Life happens)

I know the adjustment for my big kid will be tough. He’s used to having me all to himself and our treasured pre-bedtime snuggles and reading have to change. My hope is his excitement for a sibling and all the love he exudes will balance the big changes for us faster than I expect.

But newborns, oh how they are delicious! The teeny fingers alone make me lose my senses. Add the yawns, little noises, stretches, grunts, vulnerability, delicacy, and that smell… You did it too right, a deep breath in, a sigh and a remembrance?

So what keeps me going? How will I cope? Will it be terrible? Will it be wonderful? Will there be tears?

  • Easy answer; I have to keep going, it’s inevitable at 9 months pregnant. Complicated answer; that may be a whole other post requiring a lot of thought and retrospection.
  • I will cope how I have coped with everything else life has thrown my way, I just do. Reaching out to family and friends of course but most often it’s me on my own. The deep sense of responsibility to my children is unlike anything I can describe and forces me to rise to challenges.
  • Yes. Yes. Yes. It will be all these and so many heart expanding, terrifying more things I can’t even imagine yet.

Wish me luck.

Minimalism is a Bad Word

Minimalism is one of those words that brings to mind images of crisp sterile homes that do not looked lived in. At least it does to me.desk-1081708_640

In reality, at least in my reality, it looks very different.

I have embraced a kind of lived in minimalism. Less extreme and more what I feel is useful. How do I do it? I have 3 loose rules to follow.

First, I regularly purge all the areas of my home. Clothes, kids clothes, cosmetics, papers and recyclables (man those add up fast!). The more I do this the less attached I become to items. This makes it easier to tackle the memorabilia type stuff with practice. I don’t keep cards or gift bags or little tchotchke things except in one box I designate for those bits. If it doesn’t fit it goes!

This is a process of course. My goal is to work toward seasonal capsule wardrobes for myself… eventually. 

Second, I buy less. At one point I had a shopping addiction. That’s not tongue in cheek and I’ll write about that more another day. Over time I’ve worked on my mental health and financial health and changed how I spend.

Don’t get me wrong I’m as eager to go on a shopping spree as anyone else but if it’s not in the budget it doesn’t happen. I’m no expert budgeter but I look to what’s needed vs wanted and make choices based on that. Being a single parent and the sole income earner in my home gives that sharp focus. Even if you share expenses with a partner try using the need vs want question when you’re making purchases. Less coming in means less to declutter later.

Third, I organize everything. From KonMari folding techniques for all our clothes to my linen closet having labeled bins for different size sheets, towels and wash cloths everything has a place. It lets me see what I have much easier and helps with the want vs need question above.

Bonus of organized spaces, they are peaceful to look at. My linen closet makes me happy! Seriously.

These loose rules are simple for me and for you to follow. It brings minimalism from bare bones to comfortable simplicity. Try it, embrace the process. Little by little it becomes easy and you’ll wonder what took you so long.

Public Speaking – Why It’s Really Not That Scary

It’s widely known that public speaking is a top fear for a lot of you. But what can we do about it?

Being able to speak clearly and calmly (or at least appear calm) can be a huge benefit in work and personal life. It helps us show our skills, share information and ideas and be part of the group. That group can be any from your office weekly meetings to your group of friends planning a party.

I love public speaking. Really, I do. When I share this with friends the general response is “ugh, not me, no way”. For me it’s fun, let me tell you why.

1 – I get to prepare the information to share. If it’s educational or work informative I’m often the one working a PowerPoint presentation a few days ahead to prepare. The geek in me enjoys playing with it, maybe too much.

2 – I can show what I know and my ideas are heard. In a social group being able to contribute to group plans means you can do things that interest you and not just follow everyone else. And maybe get to go to my favorite new restaurant that no one else has been to yet.

3 – Pride. Truly as much as I like speaking I still get nervous and I know my voice is shaking just enough for me to notice. Whenever I am finished, no matter what the situation, I feel good about not letting my own nerves hold me back.

Does that sound good to you? To be prepared? To be heard? To feel good about yourself? Yeah? Let’s look at quick ways to get past the fear and start speaking up.

First, prepare. That sounds simple but really, prepare what you’re planning to talk about, especially if it’s in front of co-workers or any size crowd. You can choose a slide show, a hand out or simply speaking from cards or memory if that works for the situation. But know your stuff. If you have to research for a week in order to speak for 15 minutes then do it. You will feel calmer knowing that you can answer any questions that come your way.

Be OK not knowing. Sure that’s opposite to what I said above and it’s also very true. No matter how prepared you are someone may ask a question you can’t answer. Simply say something like “That’s a great question. I don’t have the answer to that right now but let me get back to you”. That kind of honesty makes you more trustworthy overall. Be sure to follow through and get the best contact information from the questioner.

Practice. I mean practice in 3 ways:

  • Start small, speak out more in places and with people you’re already comfortable with. Then move on to meetings and bigger and bigger groups.
  • For any planned speaking engagements practice your speech in front of the mirror, or a loved one, as many times as you can. It goes with knowing your stuff.
  • Use calming breathing and mindfulness techniques. These help you calm down physiologically and let you speak more clearly.

Get excited. I learned this tip from Mel Robbins in her book The 5 Second Rule. In the book she talks about how fear and excitement crate very similar reactions in our bodies. By talking to yourself as if you’re excited rather than fearful you trick yourself into moving away from being afraid into being ready. Of course she explains it much better in her book if you want to pick it up for yourself.

Using small tricks works. It can get you to change how you feel about speaking in public. Then you can be the one sharing your tricks and tips to help someone else conquer the fear. Go for it, find a starting point for speaking out today.

Freelance or bust

I’ve always been a writer at heart. It began with pen and paper and a pink fabric covered journal with a picture of a horse on the cover in grade 6. That one has since seen the inside of the fireplace! No one needs to read the angsty musings of teenage girls, amIright?! But that experience fuelled my love of expressing ideas in the written word. Add the university essays in psychology and social work and you have the perfect recipe for a freelance writer for hire.

So here it is, my first official post on my very own website. Yay me!

My goals here are to connect with women’s organizations, single mom resources, mental health professionals (like me) and anyone else who likes my style. For the record I pride myself on being brainy, professional and having a healthy dose of whimsy. And I’m interested in absolutely everything, a result of time spent as a Jill of All Trades office temp for years.

Follow along and join me in this journey. I’d love to get to know you, your story and your business too. twitter profile 1

Me and my kiddo in Rabat, Morocco – May 2018. Also known as the reason I work from my laptop.